Doorperson of the month: Nick Damus

(Published June 30, 2019)

Nick Damus, a doorperson at 340 On the Park, has lived several lifetimes. Born in Haiti, he emigrated with his parents to New York City as a boy. When he grew up, he joined the Air Force, studied electronics and lived overseas in Italy.

He learned to speak Italian, adding that to his knowledge of French Kreyol, French, English and Spanish. After the Air Force, he became a French and Spanish teacher in New York City’s public school system.

“Life in New York became a bit challenging because a teaching job in the public school system is tough, so I wanted to do something else,” Damus explained.

He moved to Georgia, where he had relatives, and went back to school for network engineering. After graduation, he moved to Chicago where relatives in the city offered to help him find a job.

“I came here looking for a job as a computer network engineer,” Damus said. “That’s when the economy tanked and all the jobs went overseas. That’s how I ended up working as a security officer.”

That was at the now-defunct Chicago Place mall on the Mag Mile. But he didn’t stay there long. In 2007, 340 On the Park opened and needed door staff. Damus said a friend recommended him and he was hired. He started working there on the day the building opened. Finally, Damus found a job he loved.

“I’m the sole survivor,” he said, “the only one who’s been here [from the beginning] of all the staff.”

Damus said he loves the job because of the speed. It’s a busy building with 344 apartments. People are constantly coming and going through the lobby.

“You’re not [just] a doorman here,” he said. “You’re basically involved with everything. It’s very hectic. It’s very highly paced. It makes the day go by really quick. You’re on your toes a lot and you’re multitasking. And that’s what I like about it and why I’ve been here so long.”

While explaining this, a woman asked for help jumpstarting a car in the parking garage.

“Your communication skills and your customer service skills have to be up to par here,” he said after he helped the tenant. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”

When he’s not helping residents and manning the door, Damus said he enjoys his hobbies.

“I read a lot and I watch movies,” he said. “I play guitar, a little bit of rock guitar. … It’s something that I’d like to be good at.”

But don’t look for Damus at open mics anytime soon.

“No, I’m not at that level at all,” he said.

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Johnny Anderson, The Buckingham

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Johnny Anderson has been the doorperson at The Bunckingham since July 10, 1999.

The Buckingham, 360 E. Randolph St., is one of the original residential towers in New Eastside and it remains popular, with 305 units and, Anderson estimates, about 650 residents. He works the afternoon shift, starting at 3 p.m. and wrapping up at 11 p.m. Anderson said he likes the long day.

“I like that shift because I’m almost 70,” he said. “I’m 69, and I hate to get up early in the morning so I can sleep in late and if I have to do some errands, I can do them in the morning and still get to work.”

Anderson said he helps residents with packages and deliveries and, of course, he opens doors for people. But during those long evening hours when few people are coming or going, he enjoys singing praise songs. Anderson is a born-again Christian and, alone in the lobby, he said he sings to God when no one else can hear him.

“People come in here sometimes and they say the building feels anointed,” he said. “It’s because I’ve been singing praise songs when nobody is around. I can’t do it when people are present because I don’t know what they believe, but I do like to give praises to the Lord at all times and when it’s slow, I like to give God a praise.”

Anderson said he loves working with people, even through the trauma of life.

“Well, I am a Christian a born again Christian and so there was a time when there was a lady who lived here, and she was diagnosed with cancer,” Anderson said. “She was told she had cancer throughout her body. She was told she only had six months to live and so she came down and she wanted to talk to me about Biblical things. And I had to do it because I felt bad for her soul and I wanted her to know something about the Bible. I witnessed to her and gave her some material to read and I told her the Bible means Biblical Information Before Leaving Earth. I gave her all the information I could and she loved it, and after accepting Jesus Christ as her savior, she lived another year and a half and when she finally did die, her husband came to me and told me that when she died she was smiling and no one in the hospital could figure out why she was smiling. And when I heard that from her husband I started crying. I love to be able to help people when they’re going through something.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Brandon Brown is the New Eastside doorperson of the month

(Published April 30, 2019

By Jesse Wright, staff writer

Doorperson Brandon Brown, at the Coast since 2017, works to make the humans feel at home as well as the dogs.

Not only does he know the names of residents, he knows what sort of treats the dogs like and he hands them out accordingly.

“We have a jar for everyone,” he said. “This is a dog friendly building. I keep my lint brush handy.”

Besides navigating the world of canines, Brown said his job keeps him busy.

“We have over 500 residents; we have a pretty stocked building,” he said. “We are over 95 percent occupied with over 400 units.

“Most days from 7 a.m. it’s pretty busy,” he said. “It’s not just sitting at the desk pushing the button. It’s a lot of thinking. You have to think quick on your feet.”

During the shift, he interacts with the outside world—dealing with deliveries and maintenance workers—and the inside world, helping residents who work from home or helping residents get ready for their day in the morning.

“I have actually seen some of these families grow,” he said. “I’ve seen them go from not having any kids to having kids. You see it from the beginning to the end here.”

Brown said he tries to put positive energy in his job and he suggests anyone who works a door job do the same.

“I always say the energy you put out is the energy you will receive,” he said. “I try to preach that throughout the day to my guys here. Everyone has tough days but if you put your best foot forward it will come out your way.”

Last year Brown was promoted to lead doorperson and with that came a more permanent daytime schedule, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. He said he was happy for the promotion and likes the job.

Prior to being a doorperson, Brown was in property management and he started work as a doorperson as a temporary gig, he said. Over time though, it became permanent.

“I have grown to love it,” he said.

When not at work, Brown said he’s usually spending time with his son or with friends.

“My son just turned 2, and he keeps me busy,” Brown said. “I like to bowl and bowling is one of my favorite things to do.

Brown also spends time working on the hair brush company he and friends launched four years ago.

“I also have a small brush company called Candy Life, he said. “We provide hair brushes with colored bristles.”

Brandon Brown is the doorperson of the month for May, and he works at the Coast. Photo by Jesse Wright

Sircraig Lykes of the Tides is the doorperson of the month for April

(Published March 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The Tides isn’t Sircraig Lykes’ first building he has worked at as a doorman but he says it is the best.

In his six years at the Tides, Lykes has seen the building develop and change. “The tides has basically transitioned to a family-style building,” he said. And with the families, come pets.

“Sometimes I say there are more dogs than people here,” he laughed. He pointed to a large jar of dog treats on his desk. It was filled, but he said in a day or so, it would be empty. He’s not complaining—he loves the dogs and their people.

“If you don’t like dogs, this is not the building for you,” he said. “This is a very friendly, very family oriented building. This is just a good place to be.”

He said the neighborhood changes with the seasons and in the summer he plays tour guide, a job he enjoys. “In the summertime it’s hustle bustle,” he said. “I think because in the summertime there are more festivals and more concerts. There’s overall more stuff to do and so people walk in here looking for the river walk and I tell them where it is.”

And when people visit from out of town, they ask him for  recommendations.

“You have to be knowledgeable about what’s in your area,” he said. “People will ask, ‘What’s a good place to hang out on Friday or Saturday night?’ I’ve had families come in from out of town and I’ve planned their entire stay here.”

For anyone who doesn’t have a minute to pop in and ask Lykes himself, he offered a bit of entertainment advice.

“On Friday there are a lot of happy-hour specials, so look for those,” he said. “They’re closing Tavern at the Park so I’d get over there before they close that. Mezcalina, they have really good drinks, Drunken Bean has a good happy hour, too. I would say think happy hour. The Hyatt Hotel has a really good bar with really good drinks and the Drake has live jazz on Wednesdays.”

Lykes is a family man who enjoys spending time with his nieces and nephews, watching sports and hanging out with friends. Which, in a way, is what he does at work.

“I love what I do.” he said. “I meet people from all over the world. The best thing about this job is that I’ve watched kids go from crawling round the lobby to running around the lobby. I’ve watched people go from just hanging out together to getting married and having kids. I’ve watched progress and families grow in this building. It’s a really good thing. It’s all about families. That’s what I saw growing up and that’s what I see here.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Craig Lykes is the the doorperson at the Tides and he is doorperson of the month for April. Photo by Jesse Wright

Joshua Harris is the New Eastside doorperson of the month

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Joshua Harris has worked at the Aqua at Lakeshore East for 10 years, starting his job just a year after the building opened. Harris said he got in because a friend, one of the building’s first employees, thought Harris would be a good fit at the 225 N. Columbus Dr. residence.

So far, so good. He said that he’s enjoyed the last decade, “It’s like a vacation coming to work. And actually, the time has flown by. Someone asked me the other day how long have I worked here, and I said seven or eight years, and my partner said, ‘It’s been 10 years,’” Harris said.

The building is a mixed-use facility with rental apartments, condos and a hotel sharing the space, so Harris interacts with all kinds of people; office workers, residents and visitors looking for the front desk at the Radisson Blu hotel, next door.

Harris said the residents are mostly families and older folks, so there isn’t too much chaos but says that wasn’t always the case.

“It used to be a really big crowd that would go out on the weekend,” Harris said. “When the building first opened, it was a lot of college kids and everybody went out and partied, but the building changed, and it’s an older crowd and everybody slowed down.”

Besides his work as a doorperson, he operates an extermination company with his father.

“My father, he’s been in the extermination business for 30 years,” Harris said. “And he’s moving on, and so I’m taking over. [Being a doorperson] is only eight hours, and there are 24 hours in the day.”

Which isn’t to say Harris doesn’t have a fun side. He enjoys photography and golf, when he can find the time. Harris’ favorite golf tip?

“Rule number one, keep your head down and let the club do the work,” he said.

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

New Eastside Doorperson of the Month: Reginald Turner

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

When Park Millennium doorperson Reginald Turner was a boy, he was in foster care.

“I was a foster kid for a long time,” he said. “Coming from foster homes, it was a struggle.”

He grew up and out of the foster care system and, as an adult, found himself working alone at a desk all day, studying numbers. He was an accountant for 24 years before he was laid off.

From there he worked security. In 2010 Turner got a job as a doorperson at 2700 N. Hampden Court. By 2016, ready for a change, he started at Park Millennium. That’s also when he started really interacting with people.

“The people keep my energy up,” he said. “It’s just fun meeting different people every day.”

Turner works in the afternoon and evening. A normal day consists of getting packages—a lot of packages—and greeting people. He loves making residents smile when they come in for the day.

“It’s not really a job. It’s just like greeting your friend coming in every day through the door,” he said. “This is one of the best buildings I’ve been at.”

Turner said he loves when everyone comes home from work during rush hour and he likes hearing what’s new with the kids who live in the building.

He also enjoys working with his colleagues and said he learns something new from them every day. The most important is to “be friendly, be present [and] make sure you acknowledge everybody who comes through the door,” Turner said.

Emergency situations, he said, keep him on his toes. When someone got stuck in an elevator, he had to call the fire department— a new experience for him.

Besides being a doorman, Turner is an artist and a musician. He said he has a talent for drawing, and he’s been learning the guitar for about five years.

But he really, really likes his job.

“I never really had a family so, you know, I make the people part of my family,” Turner said. “So that’s why I enjoy this building.”

Send nominations for Doorperson of the month to info@neweastsidecommunity.com

[Doorperson Reginald Turner loves his work family at the Park Millenium residencies. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski]

New Eastside doorperson of the month, Gail Rogers

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Gail Rogers is the doorperson at the Park Millennium building at 222 N. Columbus Drive in the New Eastside.

But she’s more than a doorperson.

When she is not helping residents, Rogers said she enjoys bowling. “I’m a bowler and I’ve been doing it for years,” she said.

Rogers said on a good night she can get to 150 or 165, but no matter what her score, she said just being on the lanes is stress free. “I started bowling when I was 17,” Rogers said. “I liked it because I was able to do it. I could actually bowl. I had never did it before and my family said, ‘well, come on try it.’”

She’s also an avid pool player.

“I love it,” she said. “My two favorite sports are bowling and shooting pool.”

When she’s not bowling or shooting pool though, Rogers is at work. She has been at her current residency since 2005. The Park Millennium building is a high-traffic area, so much so that Rogers said it’s probably one of the busiest condos in the downtown area.

Besides liking people, Rogers said a good door person has to be patient because all those people have individual personalities and needs. “You definitely have got to be patient, and you got to like what you do,” she said. Rogers said doorpeople who don’t love the job typically leave the work because dealing with people can be tough. “You got to love people and constant interaction,” she said. “You really do. And then everyone is happy and they smile a lot.”

Not every interaction begins with a smile. Rogers said sometimes people can be in a bad mood or they can be frustrated, and those moods aren’t overcome with a smile. For that, she said, a good doorperson should use their ear. “I listen a lot. I am a very good listener,” Rogers said. “A lot of people come at you and they’re very angry and a lot of times you just have to listen. If they vent, you’re able to help them even more, but just be patient with them. Let them vent.”

Rogers is a born-and-raised Chicagoan and, while she currently lives in the suburbs, she said she has an affinity for working in the downtown area.

“This area here is so convenient,” she said. “I take the Metra (to work). And we have a pedway system, so I can go to the pedway system and get on the Metra and I don’t have to go outside. I think that’s great this time of year.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Streeterville Doorperson of the month Dwight Jones

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

Dwight Jones, doorman at 400 E. Ohio St., said he has mastered the art of being a doorman. He better have—he’s been at it for 36 years.

Jones started out at the Whitehall Hotel at 105 E. Delaware Place, where he had to wear a top hat and white gloves. His colleagues there were the best of the best and taught him everything he needed to know to succeed, he said. The most important piece of advice he got was to always be prompt and well-groomed.

Guests on The Phil Donahue Show would stay at the Whitehall, and Jones said he met many famous people, including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Pearl Bailey and Elizabeth Taylor. The most memorable, he said, was Paul Newman, who showed up with a U-Haul full of clothes and shoes. Jones and a maintenance man unloaded the whole thing and were tipped generously.

“[Newman] wore a lot of velvet,” Jones said.

After the Whitehall, Jones worked at the InterContinental training employees to be doormen. He, then he worked at a few different buildings before settling at 400 E. Ohio St., where he has been for 25 years.

A typical busy day involves “a lot of packages, a lot of greetings, a lot of smiles,” Jones said. Many of the building’s residents have lived there as long or longer than he’s been there. “It’s just like home,” he said.

Jones said  he’s watched the neighborhood change a lot over the years. “I’m so proud of Streeterville, the way it came up,” he said. “Streeterville is the new big thing in Chicago.”

As a doorperson, Jones said he has to be ready for anything—and anyone. “You have to be in shape. You have to have a presence about yourself. This is not an easy task job. You have to be physically ready.”

In his free time, Jones likes horse racing—he’s been to the Kentucky Derby twice, he said. He also calls himself a “football addict,” adding that he’s played sports his entire life and loves the Patriots and the Cubs.

Jones also loves his job. To be a good doorperson, you have to “like what you’re doing, know what you’re doing, and be a professional,” he said. “If you don’t like what you do, you ain’t gonna survive at it, cause you’re gonna always think of problems to hate the job.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

John King, the December Doorperson of the Month for the New Eastside

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

 

John King is a doorman at The Tides at Lakeshore East at 350 E. South Water St. – a job he worked his way up to earn. After working for a year as an overnight janitor at 400 E. South Water St., King applied to be a doorman at The Tides and was accepted, he said. That was nine years ago.

Since then, he has dedicated his career to the Tides –dealing with movers and deliveries each day, as well as greeting every resident who comes in the door.

“It makes a difference that they have a nice greeting in the morning and a pleasant smile, and I try to do that every morning,” he said.

King, 52, said the main reason he likes is job is the people he meets, especially the children in the building. He enjoys “just seeing them and how their lives are evolving, people that have children and watching them grow up, and just meeting so many people from so many different parts of the world is exciting as well.” he said.

King said The Tides has many “very nice” long-time residents and that he likes knowing that the families there feel like they can depend on him to take care of them. He’s successful, he said, because he’s a people person.

“You have to love people, and you have to love helping people, and I think that is what makes me good at my job,” he said.

His advice for aspiring hospitality workers is simple: have patience and kindness. He said sometimes people can be temperamental and it’s important to know how to deal with that as well as understand “sometimes people react differently when they’re in a situation that is unfamiliar to them,” he said.

“You have to be able to adapt, and that takes patience, and it’s always being kind. No matter what’s going on, you have to be kind because that can temper a lot of situations, and it can really calm a situation down and get the results that you need at that moment,” King said.

King said that when he’s not at work, he serves as a Christian minister teaching people the Bible.

 

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

New Eastside Doorperson of the Month: John Echevarria transforms a condo into a home

John Echevarria transforms a condo into a home. Courtesy photo

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

 

John Echevarria, doorperson at the 340 E. Randolph St. Condos, is a people person.

He would have to be —  he’s been at the Randolph St. residence since April 2010, and has been a  doorman for more than a decade.

“The 340 condos are, by far, the best condos I’ve ever been in,” Echevarria said. “The staff, the residents and my boss in particular, she is such a great leader. I’ve learned quite a bit from her in the five or six years she’s been at the building. My growth has [been] multiplied in the powers of ten. My knowledge has exponentially gone up since she’s been here.”

Echevarria said the most important thing he’s learned is leadership skills. He hopes to continue in the service industry as a leader and he is learning how to do that on the job. His role there is nothing short of professional development.

“I’ve learned a lot of leadership qualities,” Echevarria said. “I’m the head doorman here and my boss, she’s showed me how to be a leader, how to train the staff to better themselves and how to provide better customer service for the residents. My ultimate goal is to go into management and she’s given me a lot of management tasks. All of that has helped me prepare to go into management.”

The job-training aside, Echevarria said he residents who motivate him to go to work each day – this love for human interaction is what got Echevarria nominated for Doorperson of the Month and why he excels at his job.

“You have to be customer-service oriented,” he said. “You need to love working with people. You want to be customer- and security-oriented. You want to feel, when you come to work, that it’s also your home.”

A good doorperson has to treat the resident families like part of his or her own family and the property as an extension of the doorperson’s own residence, Echevarria explained. A good doorperson can’t let in just anyone, but they can’t act like a bouncer, either.

“You want to screen people who come in, politely,” Echevarria said. “Your job is to know how to treat this like it’s your home.”

Residents, he said, notice this and it makes them feel more at home in the condo.

“When you have confidence in your door staff, that makes your living environment that much more enjoyable,” Echevarria said.

As Echevarria makes the condos more of a home and treats residents like family, they, too, get to know him and make him almost a part of their family.

As a doorperson, Echevarria watches children grow up and families get larger — and he loves it.

“A lot of these residents have watched me grow and become a father,” Echevarria said. He became a father in 2013 and now has two daughters.

Between being a service industry professional, a husband and the father of two girls, Echevarria said he’s got his hands full of families.

“I’ve got two girls now,” he said. “One’s going to be 5 and one’s going to be a year and I have a beautiful, wonderful wife who takes care of the kids when I am at work. I get a few date nights here and there, but it’s all about work and family right now.”

 

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

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